A kitchen sponge is exposed to all kinds of different microbes, which form a vast microbiome of bacteria. Phages are the most abundant biological particles on the planet and are typically found wherever bacteria reside. With this understanding, kitchen sponges seemed a likely place to find them.
Students in a research class isolated bacteria from their own used kitchen sponges and then used the bacteria as bait to find phages that could attack it. Two students successfully discovered phages that infect bacteria living in their kitchen sponges. "Our study illustrates the value in searching any microbial environment that could harbor potentially useful phages," said Brianna Weiss, a Life Sciences student at New York Institute of Technology.
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The researchers decided to "swap" these two phages and see if they could cross-infect the other person's isolated bacteria. Consequently, the phages did kill the other's bacteria. "This led us to wonder if the bacteria strains were coincidentally the same, even though they came from two different sponges," said Weiss.
The researchers compared the DNA of both isolated strains of bacteria and discovered...
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